Groundswell receives Comic Relief funding to tackle homeless health inequalities

Groundswell receives Comic Relief funding to tackle homeless health inequalities
14/09/2021 Charlotte Payne

14 September 2021

Groundswell is proud to be one of twenty initiatives to receive a share of £9.1 million funding from Comic Relief’s Changer Makers programme, announced yesterday.

It will fund our Listen Up! community storytelling project, in collaboration with On Our Radar.

The project will amplify the stories of people facing homelessness in accessing health services, and equip people to know their rights and have the skills to hold decision makers to account.


The Change Maker programme aims to find innovative solutions to problems affecting vulnerable people that have been overlooked or under-resourced at a local, regional and national level. Each project must work towards an overall, big picture change.

At Groundswell, the change we want to see is:

“People who are homeless have equal access to good healthcare and increased life expectancy because barriers to healthcare have been removed; helping them to move out of homelessness for good.”

To achieve this, our goals are:

  1. key decision makers in health, housing and homelessness have an increased awareness and understanding of the barriers to accessing services for people who are experiencing homelessness across the country
  2. a movement of people experiencing homelessness is created, influencing decision makers and holding them to account for creating change in practice and policy.

What we will do

The project will have three major parts to achieve our aims, and has received £597K funding.

1. Better evidence and insight

We’re planning to conduct qualitative interviews and focus groups with hundreds of people with experience of homelessness annually, to ensure a multitude of voices and experiences are heard.

We’re also planning to use an innovative ‘community journalism’ approach, similar to that successfully used for our COVID-19 stories project.

Drawing on the expertise of our partners On Our Radar, who specialise in surfacing stories from unheard groups worldwide, volunteers with experience of homelessness will receive journalism training to use media such as writing, voice recording and filmmaking.

Their important stories about healthcare access will be posted and amplified online creating a unique platform of raw, on-the-ground reports.

2. Involving decision makers

The stories and insights we gather will be used to highlight issues to key decision makers through briefings, webinars, meetings and working groups.

An action hub on the Groundswell website will make a record of insights, actions, progress and responsibilities.

3. Ensuring people know their rights

Listen Up! will ensure that  people experiencing homelessness are aware of their rights by delivering self-advocacy training across the country.

The training will also ensure they have the confidence, knowledge, skills and connections to hold key decision makers to account for change.

Additionally, as always Groundswell’s unique progression programme will provide support and opportunities for volunteers to work towards their goals and overcome the barriers that may be preventing them from being achieved.

Becky Evans, Groundswell Fundraising and Communications Director, said:

“Everyone has the right to a safe, secure home and the right to good health through equal access to healthcare. Nevertheless, people experiencing homelessness have much poorer health than the general population, often facing barriers to access.

With Comic Relief’s funding we can give people experiencing homelessness a platform where they can be heard and listened to, by people who have the power to create change.

When the challenges are understood, better solutions can be created, and informed by people who themselves know what it’s like to be homeless.”

The Change Makers programme is launching twenty new initiatives involving 46 organisations, spanning all four nations of the UK, over the next five years.

They will tackle serious issues that have seen increased demand for help throughout the pandemic including homelessness, domestic abuse and mental health.

Samir Patel, CEO of Comic Relief, said:

“It’s fantastic that through our new Change Makers programme we are able to support 20 ‘game changing’ projects that are working with thousands of vulnerable people and families throughout the UK.

Each project aims to provide vital long-term support and make a real positive impact on communities hardest hit by the pandemic”